“I am dealing with this terrible phase of my life, and I want someone to be there ‘with and for me’ and to be able to understand my circumstances.”
“”Okay, you mean to be able to SYMPATHISE with you?””
“No, that’s not what I meant!”
“I want someone to connect with the emotions I’m going through, not trying to instead demotivate me for the same.”
Here’s precisely where most of us go wrong!
We’re all facing problems, having our fair share of bad days, failed relationships, disappointment in self, hindrances, and so on, and having someone to feel the kind of pain, a similar vibe, and emotion is not less than a physiological hug!
Seek EMPATHY, choose EMPATHY, over and over again.
When you allow someone to feel sorry about you, unknowingly, you lose yourself to them; rather, when you allow someone to share your sorrow, unknowingly, you earn yourself in them.
We’re all different, and we all react differently to different situations, so is with empathizing, I might do it the other way, and you might do it some other way! If we look at it, there are legit ways how you can be there for someone without pitying!
COGNITIVELY, wherein you’re trying to simply figure out how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. Sometimes called as perspective-taking! It has a lot to do with the person’s intellect and vision! Further, it helps at motivating them and understanding diverse viewpoints. It is defined by knowing, looking through, and then comprehending on an intellectual level. As most of us know, to understand sadness is not the same thing as feeling sad. It takes a whole lot to step into someone’s shoes, after all.
EMOTIONALLY, is when you feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious. You actually try to keep yourself there, you are then a person with the ability to fully take on the emotional and mental state of another. For instance, when your partner or anyone you deeply love comes to you in tears, it’s a natural response to feel that pull on your heartstrings.
COMPASSIONATELY, with this kind of empathy, we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed!
It takes courage, benevolence, and selflessness to be able to empathize with someone compassionately!
Fun fact, deep down our hearts, this is the type of empathy that we’re usually striving for!
But no matter how you choose to be there for people, either cognitively, emotionally, or compassionately, someone’s rightly quoted “One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know that they ARE NOT ALONE.”
Let us throw light on the POWER of empathy! Why should one do that? Why is it so significant? Does it make a change? A profound impact?
It is a commitment to doing something that relieves someone else’s suffering, and hence important in every way.
There are actually several reasons to foster empathy for others, and it’s importance isn’t only for the ones who’ve been empathized with, but also for the one who empathizes!
The moment you choose to be with someone when they need you the most, to be able to look at things from their perspective, helps you invite emotions and feelings that might be of use to you at a later stage of life because nothing done for good goes in vain. You tend to build ties with the person you empathize with, just letting them know “you’re there” is powerful in endless ways, you don’t really have to fix something or feel it for them. Rather you have to just FEEL IT WITH THEM!
“SIT BESIDES ME’
AND TRY TO SEE,
HOW THINGS ARE GOING DOWN THE LANE,
AND TURNING ME INSANE,
I KNOW YOU CAN SEE THOSE TEARS’
COMING OUT OF SEVERAL FEARS’
THAT I TEND TO BURY DOWN MY HEART’
SEEMINGLY TRYING TO TEAR ME APART’
I DON’T WANT YOU TO FEEL SORRY’
I DON’T AT ALL’ WANT YOU TO WORRY’
JUST SIT BESIDES ME’
AND TRY TO SEE,
WITH LOVE, COMPASSION AND EMPATHY’
LOOK AT ME’ WITH EVERYTHING BUT SYMPATHY!”
No one’s asking you to move mountains; it’s as simple as “kindness” that changes everything!
You are somehow HEALING the other person, something that should exist a little more in the world, there are so many people out there looking for someone to just be there and honestly, empathy has no script, there ain’t any right way or wrong way of doing it, it’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting and communicating to them the fact that you’re there for them.
For me, the core of empathy is CURIOSITY!
How can you start? How can you empathize, because not everyone is naturally empathetic?
Start conversation with strangers, go beyond small talk and ask them how they’re doing and what their daily life is like.
Put away your phone and other screens when you’re having conversations, even with the people you see every day, so you can fully listen and notice their facial expressions and gestures. Don’t just stand in someone else’s shoes, as the saying goes, but take a walk in them! If someone’s behavior is bothersome, think about why.
Sit by yourself and wonder, when was the last time you were there for someone, held their hand, wiped their tears, and told them, “I’m there for you, you’re not in this alone” when was the last time this happened?
Are we not too busy into ourselves, giving a cold shoulder to people who need us in little big ways, to simply be there and just be there.
It’s time we look around because sometimes it’s our own home and our family members, whom we need to empathize with, so might as well begin from there!
“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself,” and yes, that is what the world needs, nothing but empathy!
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Very beautifully written Pragya! More people needs to read this!
Thank you so so much! 🤗
Hi Pragya. It is the best piece I’ve came across on empathy. I am a Liberal arts student from PDPU, Gujarat. Would you mind if I use some part of your article on a phycology research paper on which I am working? (ofcourse, with due credits)
Thank you so much! Means alot. I’d be more than glad if my work could be of help 🙂